A small school’s 18-month battle to have its first bus run for pupils has finally been answered with a trial to start next year.
Spring Terrace Public School, which has just 20 students, has been asking the Transport for NSW government department for a bus to encourage parents to enrol students at the school.
Parents and Citizens Association spokeswoman Kath Wilkens said numbers had dropped by seven this year and the lack of a bus was among the factors.
She said with parents working it was difficult to drive their children to and from the school.
“Parents can’t manage dropping children off at 9am and picking them up at 3pm,” she said.
Mrs Wilkens said she had to drive nearly 60km a day to drop off and collect at the school.
“We just want a school bus.”
She said that it should be a permanent service.
“It’s about disadvantaging regional communities.
“And it’s such a super little school.”
She said the lack of a bus was affecting parents’ decisions about whether to enrol at the school.
And she said the delays in making the decision were impacting on the school’s future.
“People are making their decisions now about enrolments for next year,” she said.
“It [the trial] is at least something but we want to see it become permanent.”
Member for Orange Phil Donato said the school contacted him “out of desperation” when they were not getting help from the department.
Mr Donato said he had asked the Transport Minister and the department to act and was surprised by how long it had taken for them to make a decision.
“You wouldn’t think it would take 18 months to make an assessment to get a bus,” he said.
“It is important that the small schools shouldn’t be disadvantaged just because they are smaller schools.
“It wouldn’t happen in the city and it shouldn’t happen out here.”
Mr Donato said he was unaware of the cost of providing the bus service but said it was a priority for the community.
The bus service trial will start and finish in Orange and collect children from the Cadia, Forest Reefs, Tallwood, Waldegrave and Spring Terrace areas.
The trial service will start from the first day of school in January 2018.